On Wednesday afternoon, Missoula County residents gathered at the Hilton Garden Inn to get their questions answered about their recently delivered home and property revaluations.

KGVO News sat down with Property Assessment Division Administrator for the Montana Department of Revenue Kory Hofland before the meeting to get some basic questions answered, such as how property valuations are determined.

A Room Full of Property Owners Had Questions about Their Valuations

“To actually figure out what your property taxes are going to be, there are three people that are involved in the calculation of property taxes,” began Hofland. “You have the Department of Revenue that assesses and values the property. You have the state legislature that sets the tax rate per class of property, and you have the county and local jurisdictions that set their mill levies according to their budgetary needs.”

Hofland said many property owners take one look at their revised property valuations and in some cases rightfully judge that their homes have been overvalued.

“The problem is that we don't certify our values to the counties until the first week in August,” he said. “The county officials take all of that information, the taxable values and they work with their taxing jurisdictions to determine how many mills they need to set to get the proper amount of budget back. There are caps on those mill levies. So they're right that in some cases, we have overestimated the taxes but in trying to help the taxpayers know what their taxes might be, we use the previous year’s mills to do that.”

The Official said Some Property Taxes are Overestimated

Hofland said in some cases the property taxes have been overestimated.

“In cases where you're seeing 50 to 60 percent increases in value, we've overestimated those taxes,” he said. “But we don't have a crystal ball. We're not able to determine what those numbers are going to be, and in most cases, the previous year’s mills are the best way to do that. But with the appreciation we've seen in the markets in Montana over the last two years, we have done some overestimating in certain cases.”

Hofland provided advice to those who feel their homes have been overvalued.

Step by Step How to Protest Your Valuations

“Number one is to check your value,” he said. “Most people are really attuned to the markets right now in real estate. If you just don't think that market (value) is correct you need to get in and see us. For instance, if you're going through the information and we've got it listed as six bedroom, four bath and it's only a three bedroom, two bath, get a hold of us. If your concern is with the taxes you're going to pay or how the money is spent when you pay your taxes, then you need to be involved at the local level. You need to be going to your Commissioner meetings; you need to be reaching out to the treasurer's office and you need to be involved with your school boards so that you know what's going on at that level, as well.”

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Hofland explained the deadlines to file protests.

“You have till July 30th to file a request with us to review the property, which isn't actually an appeal,” he said. “Then once we've gone back and forth and done what we can do, then you still have your appeals open, and you have all the time that you need to either go to the county tax appeal board and or on to the Montana Tax Appeal Board. So the 30 days doesn't stop your appeal. It's just a deadline to file to get you in the door.”

There were numerous state revenue personnel on hand to answer questions. The meeting was scheduled to last three hours, from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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